Verbal and nonverbal communication in China

Meeting EtiquetteThe Chinese Language

Chinese is a family of closely-related but mutually unintelligible languages. These languages are known regional languages, dialects of Chinese or varieties of Chinese. In all over 1.2 billion people speak one or more varieties of Chinese.

All varieties of Chinese belong to the Sino-Tibetan family of languages and each one has its own dialects and sub-dialects, which are more or less mutually intelligible.

Why not learn some useful Manadarin or Cantonese phrases before your visit? Alternatively find out a bit more about the differences in the Chinese language and watch the video below.

Chinese Society & Culture

The Importance of "Face"
  • The concept of 'face' roughly translates as 'honour', 'good reputation' or 'respect'.
  • There are four types of 'face':
1) Diu-mian-zi: this is when one's actions or deeds have been exposed to people.
2) Gei-mian-zi: involves the giving of face to others through showing respect.
3) Liu-mian-zi: this is developed by avoiding mistakes and showing wisdom in action.
4) Jiang-mian-zi: this is when face is increased through others, i.e. someone complementing you to an associate.
  • It is critical you avoid losing face or causing the loss of face at all times.

Confucianism

Confucianism is a system of behaviours and ethics that stress the obligations of people towards one another based upon their relationship. The basic tenets are based upon five different relationships:

  • Ruler and subject
  • Husband and wife
  • Parents and children
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Friend and friend

Confucianism stresses duty, sincerity, loyalty, honour, filial piety, respect for age and seniority. Through maintaing harmonious relations as individuals, society itself becomes stable.

Collectivism vs. Individualism

  • In general, the Chinese are a collective society with a need for group affiliation, whether to their family, school, work group, or country.
  • In order to maintain a sense of harmony, they will act with decorum at all times and will not do anything to cause someone else public embarrassment.
  • They are willing to subjugate their own feelings for the good of the group.
  • This is often observed by the use of silence in very structured meetings. If someone disagrees with what another person says, rather than disagree publicly, the person will remain quiet. This gives face to the other person, while speaking up would make both parties lose face.

Non-Verbal Communication
  • Chinese non-verbal communication speaks volumes.
  • Since the Chinese strive for harmony and are group dependent, they rely on facial expression, tone of voice and posture to tell them what someone feels.
  • Frowning while someone is speaking is interpreted as a sign of disagreement. Therefore, most Chinese maintain an impassive expression when speaking.
  • It is considered disrespectful to stare into another person's eyes. In crowded situations the Chinese avoid eye contact to give themselves privacy.

Chinese Etiquette and Customs

  • Greetings are formal and the oldest person is always greeted first.
  • Handshakes are the most common form of greeting with foreigners.
  • Many Chinese will look towards the ground when greeting someone.
  • Address the person by an honorific title and their surname. If they want to move to a first-name basis, they will advise you which name to use.
  • The Chinese have a terrific sense of humour. They can laugh at themselves most readily if they have a comfortable relationship with the other person. Be ready to laugh at yourself given the proper circumstances.

Gift Giving Etiquette

In general, gifts are given at Chinese New Year, weddings, births and more recently (because of marketing), birthdays.


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Q&A

avatar
define the role of verbal and nonverbal communication in building successful business relationships.? | Yahoo Answers

As in any relationships, business relationships are based on communication between the parties involved. What you say is important because you want to say the right things in order to be successful.
Nonverbal communication is more important however because your body language will say what you might now. Limp handshakes and quivering during presentations shows that you lack confidence and no matter what you say, the viewer gauges you based upon what they see.


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